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QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Network Server E-mail
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Written by Bruce Normann   
Thursday, 09 June 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Network Server
QNAP v3.4 New Features
Closer Look: QNAP TS-659 Pro II
Insider Details: QNAP TS-659 Pro II
QNAP Turbo NAS Features
QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Hardware
QNAP TS-659 Pro II Software
QPKG Center Software Expansion
NAS Testing Methodology
Basic-Disk Test Results
RAID 5 Test Results
NAS Server Final Thoughts
QNAP TS-659 Pro II Conclusion

Closer Look: QNAP TS-659 Pro II

The QNAP TS-659 Pro II has more capacity than most NAS units in the market. Six bays can theoretically hold 18TB of data, in JBOD mode. Very few people with that much data are going to want to live without it for any length of time, so some sort of RAID configuration is called for. With six active drive bays, the main choices are going to be RAID 5, 6, or 10, depending on what type of data is primarily stored on the device. Despite its popularity, RAID 5 suffers from severe write performance limitations in large multi-user databases applications. RAID 10 eliminates this problem, at the expense of capacity, but for some uses it's a much better solution. RAID 6 offers some additional redundancy, allowing for continued operation even with two simultaneous drive failures, with no significant performance hit and only one additional drive. This option is very popular because if one individual drive fails in a RAID 5 implementation, the array instantly starts operating as a RAID 0 configuration, which has NO redundancy. It stays in that vulnerable state until the array is rebuilt, which is generally a very slow process.


The bottom line with any high performance storage solution is that the number of drive spindles in play is more important than almost any other factor, assuming that everything else is based on reasonably modern technology. When you combine the higher level of performance with the greater flexibility for online RAID capacity expansion & online RAID level migration, the additional cost of the extra drive bays looks like a bargain instead of conspicuous consumption. What initially looks like overkill in a NAS system might just be the very thing that saves the day some years down the road. With 2 Terabyte drives both affordable and readily available in performance and Green versions, six bays will most likely house all the files that 2-3 people can create in the span of 3-5 years. That's the average planned life cycle for modern IT equipment, at least for primary use. It may get re-purposed, or upgraded or passed down because it still has life left in it, but in five years almost every piece of IT hardware you own now will have evolved to the point where the new capabilities and features are too tempting to pass up.

The QNAP TS-659 Pro II shares the same basic technology platform as all the TS-x59 Pro II models, but the chunky profile sets it apart from the smaller units. It also weighs a bit more, especially with all six drives bays filled. The empty TS-259 Pro NAS unit weighs about 11.5 lbs, and adding six 2 TB hard drives piles on another 10 lbs to that. At 20+ pounds, it's never going to pass for a portable device, but it's still easier to pick up and move around than most any PC case that can hold six HDDs. Never mind one that supports six external drive bays, in addition to one more internal bay for the HDD with the operating system on it. If I had to describe it visually to someone who knew nothing about NAS devices, I'd tell them it looks like a big, restaurant toaster with a smart, German design. Oh, and the toast slides in from the front. Clever, eh?


Multiple SATA 6Gb/s drives can be installed as a single disk, RAID 0 (Disk Striping), RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring), RAID 5 (Block-level striping with distributed parity), RAID 6 (Block-level striping with double distributed parity), RAID 10 (AKA RAID 1+0, a stripe of mirrors), and JBOD (Linear Disk Volume). Each drive can be formatted using FAT, NTFS, EXT3, or EXT4 file systems, and also offers AES 256-bit encryption. Our tests utilize EXT4-formatted disks without encryption. QNAP uses a steel-framed tray with black plastic latches for each drive bay on the TS-659 Pro II, which is a common part across a large part of the product line. Each tray stands on edge, slides smoothly into the NAS and locks firmly into place. If additional security is desired, the barrel locks can secure the drives in place; they are keyed alike, and two duplicate keys are provided. The drive trays easily accommodate 2.5" drives without any additional hardware; QNAP does not recommend mixing 3.5" and 2.5" drives in the same enclosure. They do offer some small form factor units that are specifically designed for 2.5" drives, and those models are less expensive than the full size units. It's worth investigating them if handling 2.5" SATA drives is a requirement for you.


QNAP adds a few extra features on the front face of the Pro II models with an LCD screen and indicator lights on the bezel above each drive bay. A single power button and USB 3.0 copy button and port are located on the lower left corner of the Turbo NAS. The older models had status indicator lights built into the buttons; on the newer Pro II versions, all the status lights are grouped together just above the first two drive bays. There are four status lights which indicate System Status, LAN activity, USB activity, and the presence of an eSATA device connected on the back panel. Above each drive bay, behind a solid strip of acrylic are indicators with bi-color LEDs to show the status of each HDD. Red means the system is checking the drive bay or there is an error reading or writing to the drive, green means the drive is present and OK, flashing green means the drive is being accessed. To the far left on this acrylic strip is the power indicator, which is green when the unit is on.


There's a single strip of ventilation holes on the left side of the QNAP TS-659 Pro II Turbo NAS. This is the primary entry point for cool air to the dual-core Intel Atom processor, as the system board is located on this side of the unit. Fresh air also enters through the drive trays, passes over the HDDs and is then exhausted out through two 90mm cooling fan on the rear of the unit.


The QNAP TS-659 Pro II Turbo NAS server is equipped with an Intel Atom-D525 dual-core processor, which is clocked to 1.8 GHz, and there is 1GB of DDR2 system memory installed at the factory. This is near the top-of-the-line spec for CPU and memory in QNAP NAS servers, and it should provide good performance in a six-bay unit. There are two-bay units in the product line with the same CPU and DRAM specs, and they clearly vanquish any potential processing bottlenecks. In the 8 and 12-bay units the CPU gets a big bump, up to Intel Core i3 Dual Core (3.30 GHz) and Intel Xeon Quad Core (3.10 GHz), giving a solid clue to the real computing requirements for a full featured, high performance NAS. Those inexpensive, shiny boxes that use port replication hardware fall flat on their faces when asked to pull anything more than light duty. QNAP employs a dual-redundant 512MB Disk-on-Module (DOM) flash drive to store firmware and applications on the TS-269 Pro II motherboard. This acts like the system drive, yet it takes up very little space and uses almost no power. Plus, there's a built-in backup drive in case of data corruption on the primary module. Just the sort of thing you need for a high-availability system. Notice, I didn't say high reliability; I'll tackle the differences in my Final Thoughts.


Starting at the top, the big news for this new model is the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports, on both the front and rear of the NAS. Finally, there is an easy and inexpensive way to connect portable drive enclosures for making copies of your data. I always like to have a full set of backups stored at an alternate location. Now, that's easy, fast and cheap. The capability has been there for some time, on most of the QNAP NAS units, in the form of twin eSATA expansion ports, but eSATA has never been as cheap or easy to implement as USB. Dual Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 ports are provided, which can be configured in a variety of load balancing configurations, or as two separate adapters with independent MAC addresses. Each port is powered by an Intel 82574 Ethernet Controller, which offers a full set of features to take full advantage of whatever network environment the server is placed in. The IEEE 802.3ab standard (1000Base-T) interface enables Gigabit Ethernet to run over Category 5 copper cable and can be readily used in most 10/100 Ethernet networks without changing cables. The TS-259 Pro supports 4074, 7418, and 9000 bytes for MTU when Jumbo Frames are enabled. Note that Jumbo Frames are only available in a Gigabit network environment. Four Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports are positioned beside the Ethernet ports, and the system Reset button is below that, recessed inside the case to prevent accidental actuation. Two levels of reset capability are provided, Basic System Reset (hold for 3 sec), and Advanced System Reset (hold for 10 sec). A Kensington lock hole along the bottom edge allows administrators to securely tether the enclosure.


The drives get installed in removable drive trays, which some people call drive caddies, but I prefer the term "tray". The four bottom mounting holes on each HDD are utilized, and that's the only option. Because the tray and drive need to solidly engage the SATA connectors on the backplane, there is no realistic way to include shock mounting for the drives. Of course, in a couple of years someone like Lian Li will do just that, and prove me wrong.... The tray is made from carbon steel and then plated for corrosion resistance. The latching mechanism is a combination of steel and plastic, and each tray is labeled with the slot number. They are all physically identical and you can mix and match them all you want, until you build a drive array and then you had better remember which one goes where, if you ever take them out. Seriously, keep them in the same, sequential order they ship in - creativity and imagination are completely out of place in this one instance.

Now that we've had a thorough tour of the exterior, let's do a tear-down and see what the insides look like. The next section covers Insider Details.



# Power Efficient, but cost efficient?Christopher G Fields 2011-06-09 06:45
Great review and looks like a great product, but as a Computer Engineer I have to say that the whole "Great for the home owner" appeal probably is not there. I would say maybe a small business would look at this to reduce cost before Betty Crocker buys this for her home to store her pictures of the family. $400 sub similar devices are out there that are cost effective and offer raid services. Great review though and probably a great product.........for a small business or a nerd like myself, but then I'd just build my own for the fraction of the cost.
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# Peter CrockerPeter 2011-07-15 17:42
A few years ago I bought a TS-639 pro with 6 * 2TB WD 2002FYPS drives. Good for 8TB storage. At this moment I get between 55 and 100 MB/sec transfer speed. The one tested here will top this. I use it for home pictures, video, backup, documents, iSCSI with a virtual MAC, printserver, you name it.
I must agree that it has cost me, but you show me a NAS with this performance,capacity and posibilities that costs less. I can not find them out there. Software and support is also good.
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# Different expectationsBruce Bruce 2011-06-09 09:37
Glad you enjoyed the article.

Home users and businesses definitely have a different POV when it comes to technology costs. The IT director at my company (~400 people) bought one of the 5-bay units a year ago, and remarked how inexpensive it was, for all the things it could do. I don't think a home user is ever going to feel the same way, but a unit like this can serve reliably for a LONG time as the strong foundation of a home network. So, over time the higher initial cost amortizes out.

But, I hear you... I'm a self-declared cheapskate - my relatives call my home "The house that does without". This is an unfair description, but I do have a tendency to buy things once, by choosing things that have lasting value. The rest of my family is always buying the newer, cheaper version of things, and replacing them every 18 months. Me, I'd rather not have to redo everything that often.
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# Encryptionendocine 2011-06-09 20:11
One thing that wasn't mentioned in the review is drive encryption. On a QNAP system its an option, but not viable on a large array because the CPU can not handle it, so don't buy it for that. Hopefully either atoms get more powerful or they use faster processors for their future products. Tried to encrypt a 4T array and it was going to take days on a 459.
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# Next TimeBruce Bruce 2011-06-09 20:22
I suspect the next major upgrade of the top-line NAS units will include CPUs that support Intel® AES New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI). The increased performance, compared to prior generations of CPUs is astounding.
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# I mostly concurJim 2011-06-10 15:36
Good review. I'm a SOHO user with several PCs that are heavily used for work/play. I work at home a lot and need good reliable, fast storage for PC backup storage, file sharing, remote file access, and now using Oracle's VirtualBox, I've been using NAS to store VM images. So figuring I'd buy something a little more high-end, I bought a TS-459 Pro II. Have only been using it for a few weeks now, but I'm very pleased. Performance is pretty much identical to results in the review. iSCSI is a neat capability for VM's. I populated my unit with Hitachi 5K3000 2TB disks in RAID-5 and it works flawlessly. These low cost "green" Hitachi drives are 512 byte sectors, and so far have not exhibited compatibility issues seen with other mfr's "green" disks. I stress tested them 24x7 for a week in the QNAP before moving any live data to it.

I agree the cost is a bit high for most home environments, but it really does satisfy my needs for a compact, environmentally-friedly, and robust "work at home" infrastructure.

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# The right product for the applicationBruce Bruce 2011-06-10 20:00
Sounds like you are definitely in the target market for this product line. You're using several of its core strengths at the same time.

Good choice on the Hitachis, they're one of the recommendations on the QNAP forum. Spinpoint 3 drives from Samsung are another good choice, apparently. I wanted to test out the SATA 6Gb/s capability, and there aren't a whole lot of good choices ATM. You also did the right thing by stress testing the system BEFORE you loaded it up with data.
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# True.. I was a bit gunshyJim 2011-06-12 10:05
Remembering the "Deathstar" fiasco IBM had with drives a few years ago, and the fact that Hitachi has these 5K3000 series drives manufactured in China, I was reluctant to order them at first. But with rebates, they were $59 apiece... Almost throw-away if they didn't pan out. I was pleasantly surprised that none were DOA or exhibited any early failure issues under stress. Although they are only 5900 RPM, they are faster than most other "green" drives, and when working in Raid-5, they can deliver more throughput than Gig Ethernet can provide. Sata III (6 GB/s) is nice (state of the art), but in reality the spindles at that speed can't deliver data to the controller that fast. I think the verdict on these drives will be out for a while until they establish some real-world track record. I'm cautiously optimistic, though.

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# RE: QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Network Servers 2011-06-16 14:07
Nice write up will passing this link on.


Memory info found while sifting threw the other reviews and the QNAP forum pages.


memory 24.99 at newegg + $0.99 Shipping

Kingston 2GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM Unbuffered DDR3 1333 System Specific Memory Model KVR1333D3S8S9/2G

Can confirm it works.
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# Thanks for the tipBruce Bruce 2011-06-16 14:28
Without access to the BIOS, it's tough to tell what kind of speeds/timing QNAP is using, and if they are consistent across the platform. They spec the existing system memory out as DDR3-800, and Kingston has another module with the same spec memory chips on it that runs at DDR3-800, CAS 6. So many JEDEC profiles, so little time....

Many thanks for doing the detective work!

I know this isn't true, but it's funny to think that there's a cousin of the ASUS Eeee hiding inside my QNAP. LOL
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# RE: Thanks for the tips 2011-06-17 06:09
Glad it helped.

I spent a few days Googleing for the solution.

NOTE: I found posts that the other Kingston module does -NOT!- work. Any module that's specs match the module above should in theory work.

I couldn't see paying QNAP 600% more for what looked like just a generic little stick of laptop ram.

On the Bios note. Have you or anyone tried connecting a monitor to the VGA port on the back with a USB k/b and mouse and booting up? I was wondering about seeing the bios my self but other things have been occupying my time.

I haven't had it for long but so far I am pleased with that little box.

This unit is a more costly little NAS but has far more capabilities and potential than the other offerings out there.
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# Free TipPeter 2011-07-15 17:51
Before you want to upgrade the memory, you might firts want to check the QNAP resource monitor. My TS 639 pro standard has 1 GB installed.
The resource monitor shows me that it rearly uses more than 400 Mb, even when I am tranfering files at max speed.
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# CorrectionPeter 2011-07-15 17:52
Before you want to upgrade the memory, you might first want to check the QNAP resource monitor. My TS 639 pro standard has 1 GB installed.
The resource monitor shows me that it rearly uses more than 400 MB, even when I am tranfering files at max speed.
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# True facts...Bruce 2011-07-15 18:11
You're right about that, Peter. I looked at that issue in more detail in my latest review, of the QNAP TS-219P+. The section called "NAS System Overhead Measurements" clearly shows that file transfers hardly tax the memory subsystem at all. It's all the other capabilities where the extra memory can make a difference, really. It's not needed for the basic disk I/O.
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# More Memory....Jim 2011-12-07 08:26
I actually did add a 2-gig DIMM to my TS-459 ProII. Works fine and it was about $20. I was figuring that since it's running lunux as the underlying OS, the memory could (or would) be used for disk cache buffers. It's not clear that that is happening. But if you want to download, and install other applications, or enable many of the built-in services, the additional memory is a nice touch. :-)

BTW, my 459 has been working beautifully for over 6 months now and the hitachi disks are still going strong. I couldn't be happier.
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# Thanks for the update on the Hitachi HDDsBruce 2011-12-07 08:39
Good to hear that the Hitachis are holding up OK. Too bad we won't see those prices for awhile. $59 for a 2TB HDD is just a big fantasy now.....
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# No more cheap disks....Jim 2011-12-09 08:42
Yeah. I'm really glad I bought one extra at the time. Since RAID arrays like to be populated with identical disks, I figured having an identical spare was a good idea.
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# For $25 after the rest...Mik 2012-05-27 23:22
I decided, if it uses it or not most of the time, for the tiny little extra it costs to bang it in there today rather than after I wished I had it, it was worth adding it to the order. Almost bang on $2000 for a 12TB, 659 Pro II from
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# The 1%'ersBruce 2012-05-28 08:10
You're right, an extra 1% on the initial cost is just not a significant issue. Memory is dirt cheap right now anyway. Too hab HDDs aren't. {$^(
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# [email protected]s 2011-07-16 06:17
I have always found that planning for the future saves time and aggravation later on.
Anything worth doing is worth over doing, With in reason. Reason only being limited by ones Bank account/credit limit.
True, file transfers don't even come close to using the base system memory but start running a few other things and it can start to add up. streaming content to more than one media center running a personal web server etc. and it starts to eat up system resources. So adding 2gb of extra ram to future proof it for less than $30.00 is a no brainier when you have already invested around 2K$ for the box and the drives to populate it.
I wish my linux/programming Kung-Fu was stronger. I would love some one to port mythtv to it. Add a mythtv ipgk/qpkg a silicondust HD Homerun dual the soon to be releases cable card version network tuners. That would make this thing really rock. I have the dual and am impatiently waiting for the cable card version to be released later this month they work with linux mac and ms-win ware the centon offering is an internal card only works with ms-win. I found a post on the silicondust forum that someone was porting mythtv to a synology box. I hope someone takes up the challenge for QNAP. I really like my TS-659 PRO II. I still need to more drives read "a few more pay checks" to complete the box.
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